I'd been gunning for a visit to one of Mark Hix's restaurants for quite some time. Hix fuses great British food with great British modern art in his eateries - in Tramshed there are pieces by big names like Damien Hirst, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Michael Landy...the list goes on. According to his website, food and art are the perfect marriage, and as an art historian, I'm duty-bound to agree! My mum's a big oyster fan, so when her birthday rolled around this year I decided to book Hix Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon.
On walking into the restaurant I clocked the giant Tim Noble and Sue Webster neon hanging on the wall immediately. When reflected in the mirror, it reads 'fucking beautiful'. Oh, for the love of modern art.
You'll have to forgive me for completely forgetting the specifics of the dishes that arrived on our table. That's what you get when you order a round of very delicious apple elderflower cocktails at the start of the meal and forget to note down what else you ordered...
I started with the 'Heaven and Earth' dish. Sticky black pudding perched on a bed of crushed potatoes.
My sister and mother went for the oysters, and they were so good they ordered another platter, letting me sample a couple. They tasted fresh from the sea, salty and acidic from a light dousing of lemon juice and red wine vinegar and shallot sauce.
The mains came next, and this is the point where things go a little fuzzy. I'm pretty sure I ordered duck but can't be 100% sure, since the plate's been taken off the menu since! Unfortunately, all I remember about the actual bird was that the meat was a bit chewy and I had to work hard to get it off the bone. The vegetables and accompanying side of creamy mash went down a treat though.
Mum chose sea bream and Bri got her meat fix with hanger steak and bone marrow, accompanied by an unctuous béarnaise and chips.
We chatted about how Bri's university term has been going so far over our cornucopia of sides and admired Mum's earrings.
Dessert for me came in the form of a hedgerow trifle. This is always the kind of pudding I make a beeline for, but it was a little too sweet and rich for me and I couldn't bring myself to finish it.
And for my sister, a Peruvian gold chocolate mousse. It may not look much, but trust me. This. Was. Sensational. It slipped down all too easily, leaving a completely unexpected kick of flavour in the back of the throat, almost like alcohol, that left me addicted.
A trio of chocolate truffles to celebrate my mother's birthday provided a lovely full stop to the meal - a very sweet touch from the waiters.
I think Bri's chocolate mousse, the elderflower cocktails and the oysters were stunning, but I have to be honest and admit that the rest of the meal didn't overly wow me. I may have been a little tipsy after the cocktails, but the fact I could barely remember what my main was must mean it wasn't all that memorable. The hit and miss elements might just be down to my bad ordering though - all three of the dishes I ordered have been taken off the menu now, while the Peruvian gold chocolate mousse, hanger steak and oysters remain. I also really enjoyed eating in the presence of modern art and thought the service was impeccable. And I'd definitely go back just for that Peruvian chocolate mousse...